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Executives of Korean MNCs live in close-knit communities in India; fuel Samsung, LG & Hyundai’s successes – The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Samsung and LG phones, TVs , air-conditioners and washing machines, Hyundai’s hatchbacks and sedans – products so familiar with Indians that companies behind them have all but lost their ‘Korean-ness’ in consumers’ minds. But behind this market success is a story that couldn’t be more Korean – Little Koreas in India’s cities that house top and middle-rung South Korean managers who have pretty much taken over all key functions in these companies. There are around 10,000 South Koreans living in India now, concentrated in Delhi/NCR, Chennai and Hyderabad and mostly courtesy employment in Korean MNCs. They have formed communities as interesting as they are insular. So, while rest of India partied on December 31 to ring in the New Year, Korean executives will party hard on January 26-27, when New Year as per the Korean calendar starts. Yunsu Park, who’s planning a big Soellal (Korean New Year) party at her Gurgaon residence, is an illustrative example of Korean life in India. She’s director at BG Food and Bakery, a one-stop grocery and deli for all that’s required for a Korean meal. Her customers are Koreans, her friends are Koreans and her company is a vital support system for her friends. Park and many others in different Indian cities will ring in Korean New Year with an elaborate, 7-dish meal. Next year, Soellal parties may get even more numerous. “There are more than 5,000 Koreans living in Delhi and the NCR ,” says Kim Baek Kyu, president of the Korean Association, “and the number is continuously increasing”. SHARED EXPERIENCES. Chennai, where Hyundai , Samsung and LG all have manufacturing plants, hosts around 3,000 South Koreans, Korean executives said, and the community there is as close-knit and insular as in North India. Ji-Hun (27), an executive with a Korean electronic company, said he longed for two things most when he came to India, Korean food and Korean company. “I found both soon”, he said. India’s Little Koreas are built around shared experiences in food, shopping, cultural festivals, visits to Korean churches and temples – and, probably most important for executives, golf. Kim Baek Kyu, 64, and his friends spend long hours at the golf course in Gurgaon. NCR’s golf courses consider Korean managers among their most significant clients. Ranganath Thota, of Golf Gaga, a website for golf enthusiasts, says, “It is not just the Korean men but also women who play golf regularly. The wives of Korean expats are frequent visitors to golf courses, since many of them are not working and have spare time. One of the finest driving ranges for golf near Chennai has been built by a Korean.”
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